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Data-model comparison of soil–water δ 18 O at a temperate site in N. Spain with implications for interpreting speleothem δ 18 O

Comas-Bru, L. ORCID: and McDermott, F. (2015) Data-model comparison of soil–water δ 18 O at a temperate site in N. Spain with implications for interpreting speleothem δ 18 O. Journal of Hydrology, 530. pp. 216-224. ISSN 0022-1694

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2015.09.053


An understanding of how seasonal and longer-term d18O signals in meteoric precipitation (d18Op) are modified by percolation through soils is essential to link temporal changes in speleothem d18O to surface climatic conditions. This study focuses on modifications that occur in a relatively thick soil above a temperate cave site (La Garma, N. Spain). Monthly soil-water d18O (d18Osw) values at a depth of 60 cm through the year is only 14% of the range in d18Op, implying substantial homogenisation and attenuation of seasonal signals. A striking feature is that d18Osw values at 60 cm depth are lowest in summer and highest in winter, the opposite (anti-phase) to that observed in rainfall. Soil-water residence times of up to circa 6 months in the upper 60 cm of soil, and a matrix flow, piston-type infiltration behaviour with mixing is inferred. Evaporative effects on recovered soil-water d18O are minimal at this wet temperate site, in contrast with published results from arid and semi-arid sites. A soil-water model is presented to estimate monthly d18Osw as a function of air temperature and d18Op, incorporating effects such as variations in the amount of infiltrated water, changes in the ratio between evaporation and transpiration, mixing with antecedent soil moisture and small enrichments in 18O linked to evaporation and summer moisture deficits. Our model reproduces the observed d18Osw results, and produces d18Osw outputs in excellent agreement with d18O data for two monitored drip-water sites at La Garma cave that exhibit seasonal d18O variability. We conclude that simple evapotranspiration models that permit infiltration during months that have a positive hydrological balance only tend to under-estimate summer rainfall contributions. Overall, the study provides an improved framework for predicting d18Osw trends at temperate sites such as La Garma that have a relatively thick soil cover, as well as for understanding seasonal ranges and trends in d18O in cave drip-sites.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:No Reading authors. Back catalogue items
ID Code:81476


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